Monday, October 17, 2016

New Office - Simms Building

Today is the first day in Noventum's new office - on the 7th floor of the Simms building! I am keeping space at FatPipe still, since the parking there is infinitely better, and I like going there to do sales/networking/marketing. However, our space here is for hardcore programming (no interruptions, distractions, or gigantic marketing events.)

I need a space for hardcore programming since I hired a hardcore programmer named Jeremy Pepper, full time. He's already finishing up projects, starting with a WordPress plugin for Oakley Studio.

We're sharing a triple office with MatterForm since my friend Michael owns that company, wanted to go in on space together, and he has a nice group of people.

I need a selfie stick... 

Hardcore Mac Attack - I never thought that would happen, and then I started doing a bit of iOS programming.

This is our actual office.

We moved to the conference room after there was some construction going on in our main room.

Everyone uses the windows as white boards

I really like the window desks / couches / beds. When the sun is shining on you, it's a nice place to sit, look out along the city, and program (or project manage, do quality assurance or sales, which is mostly what I do now.)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Abiquiu Wedding

My friend Jeanne Lambert (Kidd now?) married her fiance this weekend in Abiquiu, New Mexico. Jeanne is a graphic designer in Santa Fe, and responsible for 100% of the customers I work with up there. Programmers and graphic designers go together well, and I appreciate all her referrals. I went to her wedding, and it was fun.

Both the wedding, and the reception /dinner were held at the Ghost Ranch. I've never been to the Ghost Ranch before. It is famous because of the artist Georgia O'Keeffe. Abiquiu lake is in the distance, and it is bounded by mountains.

I had to throw in a Georgia O'Keeffe big sky selfie.

My customer Kendra, her daughter, and her husband Todd sat with me at a table. It was nice meeting Kendra's family. We work together on many projects. This is Kendra's business.

I gave Kendra's daughter my phone to mess with. She took this picture.

The place I was staying, the Abiquiu Inn, was WAYYYY too nice. I thought I was going on this trip with an ex-girlfriend, and did not downgrade or cancel the accommodations after I broke up with her, and I should have. The place was really, really, nice (and really expensive.)

This bed was super comfortable.

All of the rooms/casitas in my building shared a garden, which was pretty cool.

The next day I went to Abiquiu lake and went fishing. The wind was blowing, and it was not the best day for fishing. However, it was still really fun. I should have jumped in! Lots of people were swimming.

I thought this was pretty good - my Android phone (or Google Drive?) stitched this photo together, automatically.

I am very white, and try to avoid skin cancer.

Pathetically small...

Thanks to my buddy Matt McLean for some pointers on using powerbait. After his text advice, I caught my first one within like five minutes.


At least he has a friend to keep him company now!

This is the view overlooking the dam.

I caught three pathetically small bluegill in total.

Luckily I do not have to sustain myself solely on my fishing abilities, but also have software development and rental property which allow me to purchase beans, rice and vegetables.

Overall, I'm happy I went to the wedding. The entire trip was planned to go with someone, so going alone wasn't quite what I was planning, but I'm glad I went. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mountain Biking with Oleg

My friend Oleg received his permanent residency a few days ago. This is a very long path (legal) immigrants take, with many, many steps and a lot of uncertainty, even for someone with a PhD in Computer Science, and an awesome job, like Oleg. He wanted to come visit Albuquerque. When I asked him what things he wanted to do to celebrate getting his green card, he said he wanted to get frozen yogurt at a yogurt placed called "Olo" in Nob Hill, and go mountain biking. We did both.

Selfie Mode From My Phone

The only two negatives were forgetting my helmet, and slicking up my knee. I used to have knee pads I'd wear, but it's been a while since I've gone mountain biking.

Oleg's phone works with his Apple watch to take pictures. That was pretty cool. 

I'm happy we went biking. We rode along the Grand Enchantment Trail, in Tijeras, New Mexico until it hit Otero Canyon, and then took the road downhill back to my car. Thanks to my buddy Efrain for loaning Oleg his bike.

Monday, April 11, 2016



A True Story of Ambition, Wealth, Betrayal, and Murder
By Ben Mezrich

Review by Brian J. Stinar
COMP 330
UNM Russian Degree

Ben Mezrich tells the intertwined story of Boris Berezovsky and his protege Roman Abramovich, two Russian oligarchs that rose to power during the fall of the Soviet Union in the лихие девяностые (dashing nineties.) Berezovsky rose from an obscure post as a mathematician, due to his understanding of interest rates, financial markets, other economic tools, and software, in a time when such knowledge was extremely valuable, and extremely rare. Abramovich used his skills as an entrepreneur to transition from a seller of children’s toys to oil and aluminum.

Boris Berezovsky began his meteoric rise to power using his mathematically skills to create software accounting systems for AvtoVAZ, a privatized car company. While there, he realized that the government-appointed “Red Directors” knew nothing about capitalism, and the new economic system they functioned under. His software company grew into the world’s largest Lada (model of car AvtoVAZ made) dealership. During this time, he was able to take the massive inflation of the time, and turn it to his advantage. He ordered a large number of cars for his dealerships, from the manufactures, paid a small down payment to the Red Directors (which, Mezrich says they pocketed) and then paid the rest off after a long period of time. Everything had insane-o inflation. Having fixed interest rates for money owed to the manufacturers, while inflating the prices of the cars sold to consumers, allowed him to purchase his supplies for almost nothing. None of this is illegal - it is arbitrage played on differences in interest rates. Even though none of this was illegal, someone still blew up his car (with him in it, which sent him to the hospital for a long time.) He didn’t give up.

Berezovsky became involved with the media. He purchased a controlling share of Channel One Russia (OTR Television) with Yeltsin’s permission. Berezovsky placed an extremely popular anchorman and producer, Vladislav Listyev, as CEO of Channel One. At the time, advertising was a fiercely competitive industry in Russia. Listyev wanted to bring all advertising sales into direct Channel One control, and out of the hands of unauthorized middlemen such as a consortium of (corrupt) shareholders for actually selling advertisements. Within months, Listyev was gunned down on his stairway. Huge amounts of cash were left on him, which made everyone think that his murder was a political, or business, assassination. To me, this seemed sort of like an aside in the story. However, after discussing this with a number of my Russian friends, every single one of them either knew about this, or remembered exactly what they were doing when they heard the news about his death. Listyev was immensely popular as an anchorman, and his stance against corruption in Channel One made him into a martyr. I believe the author put this in the book because of its extreme cultural significance, and to illustrate Berezovsky’s role.

Berezovsky used his position in the media to promote the government, and to continue to be on good terms with Yeltsin. He was extremely influential with the president’s daughter and part of their inner circle, called the “Family.”

Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich met on a yacht party, and became friends. Berezovsky was older than Abramovich, and saw an opportunity to help the younger man, grow together, and have a protege. Berezovsky became Abramovich’s ‘roof’ or krisha (крыша.) This is a concept sort of like a feudal lord - a protector, teacher, and someone that you pay money to regularly for their services. Probably the best example of this relationship comes from this paragraph:
Abramovich nodded, because he understood. Berezovsky didn’t need to spell out what these expenses might be; he wasn’t signing an employment contract, or even a partnership deal. Abramovich had come to him because of who he was - and what he brought to the table. His politicial connections, his protection, his roof. No doubt, Abramovich had done his research. He knew all about OTR, the Logovac Club, and Berezovsky’s lifestyle. He knew exactly what sort of deal they were about to strike.
They rose to immensely powerful and high positions together. They controlled oil, aluminum and media. Together they engineered Yeltin’s continued election, and the way he stepped down, guaranteeing Vladimir Putin a place. Berezovsky was a kingmaker. Everything was going well…

… Until Berezovsky publicly criticized Putin. Finally, the criticism culminated with how Putin handled the sinking of the Kursk, a submarine. Putin continued to place pressure on OTR, and Berezovsky, until he had to sell all of his controlling shares in major Russian industries. Abramovich realized his roof was falling, and offered a BILLION dollars to Berezovsky to end their relationship, since his roof was falling down. Berezovsky accepted.

Later, Berezovsky sued Abramovich in a court in the United Kingdom. The ruling was entirely in favor of Abramovich, and Berezovsky was labelled an unreliable witness, and delusional about his sense of self importance. He later killed himself, still fabulously wealthy.

This work reflects the realities of the dashing nineties. The author provides an entertaining story about the time, focusing on Boris Berezovsky and the people around him. The essential message it conveys is that you do not mess with the government in Russia. If you helped make two presidents, are one of the most powerful men in the world, you still do not use your power to criticize those in control of the government.

My opinion of this work is that it was a very fun story to read. Whenever I would ask Russian people about their opinions of the events the author portrayed, they were exactly in line with what the author discussed. I actually cared about the characters, and felt like they were real people. The author said he heard this story firsthand, from someone involved in the entire thing. I believe him. 

I highly recommend you purchase this book. It is available here.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

San Diego

This weekend my girlfriend and her family invited me to go with them to San Diego. Waking up extremely early, and flying, wasn't so fun, but it was fun once we got into San Diego.

Today we went to Seaport Village and Coronado island, and the beach there. After that, we went to a Russian store to buy ingredients for dinner, and had a nice Russian dinner.